Thursday, July 29, 2010

My thoughts today...

I've heard several people tell me that my body will do what I tell it to do. I am in charge of my body; it is not in charge of me. These amped up mantras always sounded nice. However, often they came from people that were at a fitness level I've never dreamed of nor desired: triathletes, distance runners, athletes, body builders, etc. In the back of my mind, I thought: "Yea that is easy for you to say....look at you! All I want to do is get back to a size 8."


They're right.

We all are more responsive to those we can identify with through our personal experiences. I tend to be more interested in advice from people who have struggled with their weight and/or lost a significant amount of weight and succeeded, but I realize I should be more open to advice from others.

Advice is a funny thing. Someone can tell you the same information for years...and sometimes it takes years for you to TRULY understand the meaning behind it. I know we've all had those moments in adulthood when we say: "Ohhhh! THAT's what momma/daddy/uncle/aunty meant shen s/he said..."

About a month ago, I began to exercise again and put in cardio at about 3 - 5 days a week for 30 minutes. That was a good start. Unfortunately, I did not lose any weight. I felt great, but we all know that, despite all fitness advice about inches and how our clothes fit, as women the numbers on the scale do matter, if only to us. When my friend told me that I needed to put in an hour of cardio to lose weight, I balked; I made excuses; I put up a good argument; I whined. AN HOUR? Really? I am not eeeeeven trying to be like those skinny girls in the gym that sit on the cardio machine for hours. I have a life. Please!

But something strange happened.

That same night, I had every intention of putting in maaaybe 40, but I did it. I went the extra 20 and put in an hour. It was not so bad. And for the past three weeks I have put in an hour of cardio (I also include a separate strength training regiment) 5 - 6 days a week with a goal of burning 500 calories. I started tracking my food intake again, and I am glad to say I have lost 9 pounds.

All this is to say, if you are not seeing the results that you want, at the end it's YOU (c) Q-tip. We are not meant to be overweight. We are not meant to be thick (if thick means flab and cellulite). We most likely don't have Oprah's thyroid condition (I got the tests, I don't, lol). Every time I whined about not having results, I blamed it on something else. I want to live life. I love food to much. I thought that language was okay.

Now that I am getting older, and I get flashes in which I truly feel my mortality, I realize, I want to LIVE. I love myself and my one body too much. Now, I am at the point where I can burn 600 calories in an hour, and sometimes I even go for another 20 minutes. Instead of being in pain, it is starting to feel good (not easy...but good).

All this is to say, is that if you are a 20 minute 30 minute girl walking on the treadmill, knees hurting, back hurting, out of breath, giving the chick running at 7 mph next to you the side eye: keep at it YOU WILL SEE CHANGES and IMPROVEMENTS, and it will get easier. Keep pushing yourself. Try to run for a minute, try the incline, try a different machine. It will never get easy, but your body will listen and respond. Just don't stop. We can ascend if you're committed (c) Q-Tip

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Question about Calorie Counting

Do you subtract your calories burned from calories you've eaten (ultimately allowing you to eat more)?

For example,

I am allowed 1800 calories a day.

I burned 800 calories exercising today.
(I really did: 1hr dance class, 30 minutes cycling - this doesn't include strength training. I don't exercise like this everyday, but I had some aggression to work out. Go me!)

Does that mean that if I eat 2600 calories and subtract the 800 that I will still be within my daily calorie goal?

I know Weight Watchers gives you extra points if you exercise (you must use them the same day), and LiveStrong subtracts your calories burned through physical activity, but I still feel "guilty" eating more if I exercise (although I know the body needs more fuel if you are very physically active). Ultimately, I know that I will probably lose weight quicker if I don't subtract my calories burned. However, when I exercise really hard like I did today, I am downright RAVENOUS!

Feedback would be appreciated.

Peer Pressure and Living a Healthy Lifestyle

I truly believe that when you make a decision, you will be tested in some way--not in a malicious way, just to make sure you are resolute in your choice. I also feel that making a choice and truly sticking to it for an extended period of time can be one of the most life changing experiences you can have. Even if it is as simple as pray every day or write every day for 90 months, it can change you. I've seen it happen. I've seen long term commitment to simple choices change people. There is a freedom and promise in discipline. It shows us what we are truly capable of.

Lately, I've been feeling really empowered because I have been working out consistently for a month. Last week I got my diet in order, and I have seen amazing results. I fell down in the past but I got back up, and I've made some significant changes to help me succeed this time.

Yesterday, my friend, who recently found out her boyfriend has cancer, asked me to have a Girl's Night Out. She is being an amazing girlfriend and totally supportive of him and this life-altering struggle for his health. This also so happens to be a friend that constantly stands me up, or will be almost an hour late; not call until she is a half hour late; lie about the time she left or how close she is to the destination.

Last week we were supposed to get together to cook healthy meals and divvy them out--our own version of Nutri-System...well we were making real food, so let's say Diet-to-Go (which I will be trying and reviewing here in August). After I've called several times, the time came when we were supposed to meet, and I could not get in contact with her. A half hour later, I get a text apologizing saying she was sleep. I responded (in hindsight, passive-aggressively)- "I'm used to it, some other time." She sent another text apologizing to which I didn't respond. Two days later, I decided to put my feelings aside and check on her because I know she is having an incredibly hard time, so I gave her a quick call and we chatted.

So when she asked me to hang out, I was hesitant. I asked her what she meant by a "Girl's Night Out" and she said: "You know, get dressed up, go to a club or lounge, let loose." All this was via text message, so I told her to call me. When we spoke, I told her I would like to hang out, but I can't go to an alcohol centered venue. I know myself, and at this point I will fall into the temptation if I go to a club or lounge. I really don't want to derail my diet since I am doing so well. I also expressed my concerns about her time management skills after which she said "Nevermind then."

Me: "So since I spoke up you don't want to hang out?"
Her: "Well you have all these stipulations about what you will and won't do, and I wan't to hang out and not worry about calories and drinks--so nevermind."
Me: "Ookay then"

Later on, I sent her a text of relaxing alternatives (yoga, roller-skating, salsa lessons) to which I received no response. Hours later, when I get off work, I check my phone to see a flurry of text messages:

"I know your time is valuable. I just needed a friend on Friday and you couldn't see past your anger. Then I tell you I want to go out and get away from my trouble and the first thing you say is all this things you don't want to do. What about what I may need. You are sticking to your diet and I respect that but it's not on the top of my list."'s on the top of MY list....and my list is important too.

Which is basically what I told her when I responded in my text (Did I mention I HATE having serious convos over text? Which she knows...). I don't feel like I am being a bad friend for stating my boundaries. I don't want to be around alcohol. If that's your goal, then I am not the friend for that, ask somebody else. For a second, I thought about giving in. I said to myself, "Aw, she just really needs this night to go out and let loose." I quickly scratched that idea because (1) I just can't lose my focus at this point (which is why I offered healthier alternatives) and (2) a true friend who respected my decisions would...respect my decisions!

Talk about pressure!!

What would you do in this situation? Should I have went out with her anyways considering the situation and battle temptation or am I right to stick to my decision?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Black Hair & Exercise

This is how I look after I work out. I sweat in my hair and face A LOT....

BEFORE (post workout)
The hair dilemma. This is indeed one of the biggest concerns of Black women who work out. The following is my routine. This took a lot of research and trial and error.

My hair type: relaxed, VERY thick. I have short hair, so I have even more of a challenge because I can not use the slickback pony tail method. Finally, my hair is one month post-relaxer in all pics.

I had to make some specific stylistic choices once I committed to working out:
  • Strength of Relaxer - My hair dresser usually uses a milder strength relaxer, but I told her to use a stronger one when I started working out. While stronger relaxers are generally looked down upon, this choice is okay for me because I have thick hair and I stretch my relaxers.
  • Cut - I also sweat a lot in my "kitchen", which is why I have a graduated bob. My hair dresser also "thinned" my hair out with a cutting method she calls "texturizing"
  • Use of Heat - To maintain healthy hair, I wash and deep condition once a week. Most importantly, I use direct heat as little as possible (once a week when I wash). When I was being hard-headed and consistently used heat, my bangs broke off (hence the constant side part, lol).

How do I get my hair to look like this? Read below!
(Note: This regimen is for women who work out at night before bed).
Rinse the salt (from your sweat) out by dampening your hair with a moisture spray. Black hair has problems retaining moisture and salt dries out your hair.
  • Paul Michell Awapuhi Moisture Mist
  • African Royale BRX Braid &; Extensions Sheen Spray
  • Elasta QP H-TWO Leave-in Moisture Sealing Conditioner
Wrap the hair and let dry mostly75 -80%. My hair takes an hour. If you want to speed it up you can blow dry the scarf (not the hair directly) or sit under a dryer with your scarf.

I have a very thin silk scarf. You can almost see through it. This makes the difference for me when wrapping my hair. When I used the typical scarves they sold in the hair store or thicker ones, my hair was never as smooth.

My hair after the wrap.

Pincurl the hair while still slightly damp. There are several videos on YouTube that explain this technique. Make sure you moisturize the ends as you go with a LIGHT moisturizer. You don't want to weigh your hair down with chemicals and be like this dude.

Your ends need to be smoothly curled or they will look crazy in the morning. As you pin curl, be aware of the directions of your curls. Also, I pin curl my hair in such a way that when I wrap my hair, my edges will lay flat (I put a little Aveda Anti-Humectant Pomade on the edges before I wrap them).

My hair pincurled
(I used duck pins for the pic, but I usually use bobby pins).

Wake up and take out the curls. If the ends are frizzy, I put the tiniest bit of pure vegetable glycerin on them and use steam roller to smooth them out. Glycerin is an ingredient in many moisturizers and shine products. Pure glycerin goes a long way, so use very little. There are several sites explaining how to make a moisture spray out of glycerin.

If I am in a rush and can not pin curl my hair at all, I use steam rollers, but I find my hair tends to fall sooner that I'd like with these, but that could just be the summer humidity. Nexxus Comb Thru Hairspray helps a little to hold the style, but I find pincurling overnight works best. When my hair get's longer, I plan on using protective styles such as buns.

This process should get you through the week until you can wash it on the weekends.

AFTER (with steam rollers)
This pic is the actual after pic to the one at the beginning of this post. It took me two hours (because I wrapped it and waited for it to dry) to get to this point.

Now this does not have me looking "salon fresh" and my hair can get a little poofy, but I tell myself my body is going to be looking FREEEEEEESH in a couple of months. Also, I work out daily, sweat profusely, and still receive compliments on my hair. The key is to figure out what works for you. You have to be willing to experiment and put in the work because everyone's hair is different. In the pic above, it was the first time I pin-curled it over night. At this point, pin curling does not take me longer than 10 - 15 minutes, and since my skill has improved, so has my hairstyle.

The site that helped me the MOST with my regimen was Carolyn Gray's Guide to Working Out & Caring for Relaxed Hair. Check out her videos, they are awesome!

How do you manager your hair while working out? PLEASE feel free to leave suggestions and additional information.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Wrap

My lunch of a Buffalo Chicken wrap (WITH Blue Cheese Sauce), steamed vegetables, and a side spinach salad (WITH dressing) is a total of 280 - 300 calories! Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE BUFFALO WINGS!

Things I've typically eaten in the past for lunch:

  • McDonald's Cheeseburger (I'd get the happy meal with diet coke, apples if I was being good)
    300 - 330 calories / 12g fat (6g saturated) / 750 mg of sodium
  • Starbuck's Small Double Chocolate Chip Frappacino (no whip - not necc. for lunch, but as a 3:00 pick me up):
    300 calories / 6g fat / (2.5 sat) / 230 mg sodium
  • Subway 6inch Turkey on White with Cheese (no mayonnaise light or otherwise):
    320 calories / 8.5 fat (3.5 sat) / 930 mg sodium

Wow, what a difference cooking at home maks. How did I get so much food? It's all about PORTION CONTROL.

  • 3 - 4 oz chicken with sauce
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 tb Newman's Light Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
  • 2/3 Cup Bird's Eye Steamfresh Asian Medley
  • 1 tb Blue Cheese Mixture

  • One La Tortilla Factory Hand Made Style Corn Tortilla (it really DOES taste like my grandma's homemade tortillla)

The Stats: 280 calories / 6.5 fat / 1248mg sodium (I blame the hot sauce) / 20g carbs / 3g sugar / 2.3g fiber / 34g protein

Albeit, it is high in sodium, you get ALL OF THAT FOOD for around 300 calories. You could still add some tortilla chips AND an Edy's No Sugar Added Fruit Bar (so good) and be under 500 calories.

The best part is, I bought the chicken tenderloins on sale, so the grand total for this meal was $13.00 (I already had all of the seasonings, hot sauce, and vinegar). That is less that $2.75 a meal with less than 20 minutes preparation time.

I've seen this recipe a couple of times, but seriously doubted it could fix my buffalo wing cravings. I stand corrected. Enjoy!


2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce, such as Frank's RedHot
3 tablespoons white vinegar, divided
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound chicken tenders
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
1 cup sliced celery
1 large tomato, diced

1. Whisk hot pepper sauce, 2 tablespoons vinegar in a medium bowl.
2. Season chicken with celery seed and crushed red peppers
3. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat (I used the foreman grill and sprayed olive oil on it). Add chicken tenders; cook until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add to the bowl with the hot sauce; toss to coat well.
4. Whisk mayonnaise, yogurt, pepper and the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar in a small bowl. Stir in blue cheese.
5. To assemble wraps: Lay a tortilla on a work surface or plate. Spread with 1 tablespoon blue cheese sauce and top with one-fifth of the chicken.
6. Drizzle with some of the hot sauce remaining in the bowl and roll into a wrap sandwich.

(The original recipe called for celery and tomato, but I didn't want to buy celery for one thing, so that's I used celery seeds. It also called for lettuce, but I love baby spinach.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Guess the Calories: Lunch Edition

Can you guess how many calories are in my lunch?


Buffalo Chicken Wrap (with Blue Cheese Sauce)

Spinach salad with light balsamic vinaigrette

Steamed asian vegetables.

Answer and recipe tomorrow.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I never go to the gym without it...

If there are three things that are contributing to my weight loss right now it would be my Sansa mp3 player, (and the corresponding app on my blackberry), and my Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor (HRM).

If you are counting calories, I STRONGLY urge you to get a heart rate monitor. It has been INVALUABLE in terms of showing me how vigorously I work out and tracking burned calories. When my heart rate dips below my fat burning zone, it beeps at me, and I know to step my game up! Sometimes I challenge myself to stay within a higher heart rate for a certain amount of time (see: HIIT). It also beeps when your heart rate gets too high.

In order to burn fat, you need to get your heart rate to a certain level (fat burning zone) and keep it there from 30 min. to an hour depending on your fitness goals. This means that 5 minute warm up and cooldown does not always count. After my workout, my HRM shows my average heart rate, highest heart rate, and the amount of time I've stayed in my fat burning zone (you input your height, weight, age, and the watch determines your zone for you). If that is not enough, most gym cardio machines will pick up your HRM signal and display your heart rate on the machine. It's amazing to see how off those machines are in terms of your heart rate and calories burned.

Here are some pics of the results from a spin class I took the other day:

539 calories                                 Time in fat burning zone        Average and max heart rate           Chest strap and transmitter
(I've burned as much
as 650 before)

How does it work? Well, the watch comes with a strap and an attached transmitter. On the strap are two strips that work like an EKG machine. After you place the strap around your chest, hit start on your watch, it activates the strips, and Voila!

This particular design is really cute, I've gotten a lot of compliments on just the design (It almost matches my skin tone, lol), and people's faces light up when they find out it is also a HRM. I paid $99.00 for mine, and it was worth every penny. Fortunately for you, Amazon now has it for $73.95, and since it is over $25 you don't have to pay for shipping and handling. What are some items that you take to the gym? What are some tools that you are using to help with your weight loss?

P.S. Whatchu think Ray Charles would say about my wrist???

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Getting Back Up

I've been thinking about this blog a lot lately. Especially since I am STILL struggling with eating healthy and exercising. I fell of the wagon..."hoard"....but in June I decided I need to restart this 17 year struggle. I feel like I am in Groundhog's Day, saying for the millionth time that "I'm really gonna do it this time," but it's not how many times you fall; it's how many times you get up...right? *Cue Donnie McClurkin* This blog was an outlet when I didn't feel like boring my friends with my constant weight talk. Therefore, inspired by my friend, and her motivation to get healthy, I am back at it! Bonus: I came back, and I have a note from Gihane...I actually had a reader (yay me!)

In my last hiatus I've gained a couple of pounds (4), and hovered around that number since I last posted. Since I wasn't gaining, I told myself I was okay. My fat clothes fit, so I'm good. However, I asked myself, what can I do differently this time? If a plan doesn't work, it must be readjusted. Then I got the bright idea....

Work part time at a really nice gym in order to get a free membership (and extra cash!)

My Thought Process

    • My Bally's membership is $112 a year to go to ANY Bally's in the country (sweet
      deal I got from a personal trainer ex-boyfriend).
    • Unfortunately, the one nearest me is gri-mey: moldy bathrooms, squeaky machines, old carpet, dark...just not a place you want to be.
    • Bally's also had a very limited schedule and even less group fitness classes (which I love), so I had to travel 25+ minutes to take classes that I liked.
    • I've always admired the posh 24 hour gym that is literally 5 minutes door-to-door from my house.
    • Unfortunately, when I found out it cost $90 a month and I just couldn't bring myself to fork out in one month what I could pay for a year.
    • Then I started thinking...I got my deal from a gym employe...receptionsists at most gyms...really...don' anything.

That sounds like the perfect part time job to me!

I decided to apply part time as a receptionist at Posh Gym although I was a little scared. I chuckle at it now, but I honestly thought they wouldn't give me the job because I am I really thought they would say: "You're too fat girl! Lose 10 lbs. and holla!"

I have an active imagination.

Now that I work there, I realize that has NOTHING to do with employment. I love that this gym is 24 hours and 5 minutes away.

Once the school year begins, I can go BEFORE work without having to rush or wake up at the crack of dawn. Also, this gym has THE.BEST.CLASSES.EVER. Not only do they have Zumba and a striptease class, but their step class is the bizness, and they have Hip Hip Cycle which is my new favorite class. They have towel service, filtered water dispenser for bottles, and free coffee (which, if anyone knows me, they know that is my crack, lol).

Other unexpected benefits include seeing all of the people at the gym GETTING IT IN! I realized that a lot of "skinny" women actually work at it. Even seeing people that are significantly overweight come to the gym is inspiring. So here is to a job with benefits! For those of you that have fallen down, what are some creative ways that you've gotten back up? What did you change to make it work?